Story by John Pangilinan
Photos Supplied by Manufacturers

8 Performance Clothing Needs for Adventurers

The key to packing for any adventure or trip is in piece selection, design, and materials.

The apparel you decide to bring with you on any journey is as important as the outdoor gear you pack. Performance clothing is the first line of defense from the elements, whether you’re going on a weekend jaunt or a long-term excursion; the clothing that accompanies you is step one in being prepared.

The best travel clothing takes a thoughtful approach for travel-friendly design with useful features such as odor, stain, and water resistance, as well as temperature regulation, ease of movement, and versatility. Some brands take it a step further using lightweight, innovative materials, packable design, and of course, making each product to be durable, yet comfortable.

Obtaining good quality performance clothing should be the goal, along with selecting key pieces that last a lifetime. The old adage, “Buy once, cry once,” often applies as high-performance gear is not cheap nor does it need to be expensive. Typically, brands that have stood the test of time have gained the trust of millions of people for their product quality and can be a good place to start. Brands such as Patagonia, Arc’teryx, Carhartt, Columbia, Danner, and Beyond Clothing produce stellar products. Also newer and more unknown brands have made their impact in the space, including Western Rise, DU/ER, and Prometheus Design Werx.

There are a few things to consider when selecting travel clothing from the construction and design to the performance qualities and features of each garment. Other things to consider include the type of activities, weather conditions, and how long you may be on the road.

A man walks downhill in performance hiking clothing.

Cape horn falls along the Columbia river

Advice for Buyers

Materials play a significant role in the performance of clothing. A material such as merino wool not only helps to wick away moisture, but also dries quickly. It is temperature regulating providing insulation and warmth when needed. It also features odor and wrinkle-resistant qualities, making it one of the most travel-friendly materials on the planet. To top it off, the material is 100% natural. If given the option (and budget), opt for merino wool over cotton. Cotton isn’t an ideal choice, as it absorbs moisture and provides no insulation, especially when wet. Many brands have adapted merino wool into their clothing, and it can be found in socks, tees, and other garments.

Our friends Mack and Owen from Bound For Nowhere live full time from the road and offered their advice for travel clothing. “Our biggest thing is that everything must serve more than one purpose. For instance, we don’t carry a massive winter coat. We layer wool Patagonia base layers, with an Arcteryx Atom LT (one of the best jackets ever made), and a hard shell.”

Versatility is one of the most important factors for travel clothing that you need to perform well. When on the road, space is precious and having the ability to layer and re-use clothing is significant. Having clothing that can be worn for multiple activities can help save space and ensure you’re always ready. Some walking shorts can double as swim trunks, while some shirts not only provide protection from the sun, but can also be dressed up and down as needed. Sneaker boots are a personal favorite staple for traveling as they are comfortable enough for urban environments, but can provide performance for the trails.

Performance Clothing Product Recommendations

We selected a few pieces of travel apparel and performance clothing that can complement any trip. Some items come in both men’s and women’s versions, perfect to include in every wardrobe collection.

Arc’teryx Atom LT Hoody

A woman wears a blue hooded performance jacket. A woman outdoors wears blue performance clothing. A blonde woman in a hat walks wearing a blue performance jacket.

A lightweight and extremely versatile hoody that can work as both a midlayer and standalone jacket. High-quality construction is paired with innovative fabrics to produce a durable, warm, and highly portable jacket. The materials are breathable, while side stretch panels provide additional movement and comfort. Multiple pockets help store daily essentials. A DWR finish repels moisture to keep you dry.

Weight: 13.2 oz
Materials: Resilient Coreloft Compact 60 insulation, performance stretch fleece, and light, soft Tyono.
Price: $259

DU/ER Performance Denim

Two adventurers in jeans pause to rest on a red rock wall. Two hikers pose for a photo in their performance denim.

These jeans are as close to a perfect pair as can be with its fit, comfort, and performance. The classic 5-pocket design infuses innovative materials for more stretch and durability with a timeless straight leg style that you’re used to. This item of clothing is meant for performance and heavy use, and is designed to move with your body for various activities. Whether you’re hiking, driving, or running, these will become your next favorite pair.

Materials: 70% cotton, 28% Coolmax all season polyester, and 2% Lycra Spandex

Price: $129

Danner Trail 2650 Campo GTX

A hiker in performance sneakers stands atop a rock. A hiker in waterproof performance sneakers crosses mossy rocks.

The latest addition to the Trail 2650 family, this sneakerboot features a GORE-TEX invisible fit technology design to create a waterproof barrier with ultra-breathability and sock-like comfort. The lightweight hiker performs off and on the trail due to its sleek styling. The Vibram Megagrip outsole provides grippy lugs that help to keep your balance through various terrain. The comfortable fit and cushioning ensure support for long and short treks alike. You can’t go wrong with a pair of footwear from Danner.

Materials: Leather and Textile Upper, GORE-TEX membrane, Ortholite Footbed, and Vibram Outsole

Price: $200

Beyond Clothing Todra Short Sleeve Shirt

A tattooed man in a green performance tee shirt scales a rock. A man walks along rocky terrain in dark clothing and neon shoes. A man in dark clothing and neon shoes poses on rocky background.

This isn’t your basic t-shirt, it’s an ultra-lightweight baselayer that changes the definition of performance clothing. The tee features antimicrobial properties to help keep you fresh for longer. The soft fabric is also breathable, moisture wicking, and wrinkle resistant, making it easy to take along. The shirt fits well with optimized design and stretches just enough for movement. For the price, it’s hard to beat.

Materials: 88% polyester and 12% tencel knit jersey

Weight: 4 oz.
Price: $35

Beyond Clothing Yuba Ultralight L6 Rain Anorak

This hiker's bright clothing makes him stand out against a blue sky.

Weighing under 8 ounces, this waterproof anorak will come in handy if you get caught in a downpour. This packable jacket has many features of a traditional 3L shell, but is one of the lightest on the market. Additionally, it is incredibly breathable and makes for a nice layer even in the sun. The self-storing pocket ensures the jacket can be packed and brought along even in the tightest of spaces. From waterproof zippers, an adjustable hood, multiple pockets and 3M reflective treatments for visibility, this jacket provides everyday usefulness.

Materials: Pertex 3-layer ripstop hardshell, 7-denier face fabric, PU membrane, and 7-denier tricot liner

Weight: 7.76 oz.
Price: $285

Western Rise StrongCore Merino Socks

These gray socks are an example of performance clothing for hikers.

These are a solid pair of Merino socks. The magical all-natural properties of merino wool make these an ideal candidate for daily use. They can be worn more and washed less with their odor-resistance and temperature regulation properties. Clothing yourself for adventure starts with the expectation of performance from your gear, and these socks fit the bill. These socks feature 4-way stretch for more comfort and stability and are incredibly soft. At under $20, these socks are a great value and you won’t need to pack as many pairs for your travel saving you even more in the long run.

Materials: 44% Nuyarn (40% Merino, 4% Nylon), 30% Elastane, 26% Nylon
Price: $19

Western Rise Diversion Pant

A man wearing khaki pants sits on top of a desk.

Versatility is key and these pants offer the ultimate in options as they can be worn for all scenarios and conditions. A highlight of these pants is the freedom and comfort with 4-way stretch, gusset for movement, and ultra-soft, breathable inner lining. The material is durable and water and stain resistant ensuring you’re ready for anything while traveling. These pants combine style and perfomance, making them the best clothing choice for most outfits and situations. Security is important especially on the road and a built-in zippered pocket can help stash and secure smaller wallets, cash/cards, or keys.

Materials: 94% nylon, 6% spandex, 286 GSM
Price: $285

Western Rise StrongCore Merino Long Sleeve Tee

A man in a gree performance long sleeve shirt leans against a gold car.

Long sleeve shirts are great. Not only do they offer additional protection from the sun, but they also layer easily. This Merino wool version features ultra-soft 18.5 micron Merino which is extremely breathable, temperature-regulating, and built to last. It provides enough options and stands up to daily wear. Great for all temperatures, you can wear this piece alone or layered under other articles of clothing.

Materials: 89% Merino Wool, 11% Nylon, 170 GSM
Price: $108

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